by Basil Ali, Co-founder and COO, Edumpus
A stellar degree and academic credentials are not enough to land your dream job today, however, an internship can help you land your first job as employers are looking for fresh candidates that demonstrate relevant work experience. The article explains everything you need to know about internships and how they can aid you in career readiness.
A job is like a relationship in many ways. It’s essential that you and your potential employers get to know each other well before you commit. And the best way to see if you are the right fit for each other is to work on a trial basis. Which is exactly what an internship is. Until a few years back, internships were a western concept and were popular only in certain sectors in India, like law and media.
But in the past few years, internships have become the norm in almost all sectors from tech giants to startups, and a necessity to land entry-level jobs. Such is their importance in the top rungs of the management sector that companies recruit B-school students almost exclusively based on their summer internships, and even students start looking for the right internships from high school onwards.
The need for internships
The work world has become much more competitive in the past two years owing to the economic slowdown and the resultant job losses. A stellar degree and academic credentials are not enough to land your dream job today, as the number of qualified and talented graduates in popular fields like engineering and management is staggering. For every entry-level position available, there might be a minimum of 1000 applicants with high academic records. Employers look for work-ready employees who can be productive from day one onwards, and the only means for a student or a recent graduate to gain the much-needed work experience is an internship.
“For every entry-level position available, there might be a minimum of 1000 applicants with high academic records. Employers look for work-ready employees who can be productive from day one onwards, and the only means for a student or a recent graduate to gain the much-needed work experience is an internship.”
Also, it has to be accepted that most conventional courses in India have had the same dated syllabus for decades, which are in no way relevant to the work you will be expected to do. The skills you need for the actual job would be something else altogether, which you get to know only while on the job. Upskilling shouldn’t be random, however, you need to start interning in your sector before you graduate to know where exactly you should upskill. Landing an internship in the sector or even company you aspire to work in not only increases your chances of being absorbed but also showcases initiative to the enterprise.
Above all, the workplace demands an additional set of skills involving emotional intelligence, teamwork, conflict resolution, communication, innovative thinking, and more, all of which develop best in real-life work situations. Make your resume stand out by showcasing the skills you pick up during the internships, including the non-academic ones.
An internship could thus very well be the stepping stone to your career but it also saves you endless effort and time. You get a first-hand experience of what exactly you are getting into on a day-to-day basis, which no amount of hearsay or induction programs can show. It helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses and realise what you want to do or don’t want to do, without having to go through the whole gamut of paperwork involved in actual recruitment. Internships can eventually help you make the best career decisions, and build a network with the right people, crucial in any industry. Even if you don’t join the company you intern for, you will get an idea of the career trajectories and the job titles you want to aim for.
Pandemic trends in internships
The past two years have been full of uncertainty for everyone, but the fact is that students, recent graduates, and professionals in every sector have made use of the downtime during lockdowns to upskill themselves – mostly in python training, digital marketing, web development, ethical hacking, and machine learning. Opportunities for virtual internships which were already available, increased exponentially during the pandemic as offices remained closed. Students across the country including those in IITs made good use of virtual internships, which saw a jump in 2020. As a result, the number of campus placement offers only went up and not down. All these trends show that the internship world too is fast becoming as competitive as the job market. Landing the right internships and performing well in them are not just important but essential for your career growth today.
Remote internships require a new set of skills altogether – a sense of ownership towards the work and high motivation levels since there is no option for constant monitoring. Getting a grip on these will help you in the long run, especially if you are in IT, where remote working is going to be the norm, even after Covid.
The concept of virtual internships has also opened up a new set of possibilities, as students aren’t bound by time and place anymore. Today, a student sitting in Bangalore or Chennai can do an internship for a company based in Delhi, the internship capital of the country. Also, students from Tier 2 and 3 cities don’t need to uproot themselves and struggle to find accommodation in metro cities to gain work experience. In other words, you get to learn the ropes of the job and also interact with clients and employees from across the globe, sitting in the comforts of your home. Following the Covid pandemic, students in India have not been able to pursue higher studies abroad as usual, where also, internships open up new possibilities. International internships might not be easy to secure but can give you a global perspective and a glimpse into the work culture of a different country, if not the real deal!
“Remote internships require a new set of skills altogether – a sense of ownership towards the work and high motivation levels since there is no option for constant monitoring. Getting a grip on these will help you in the long run, especially if you are in IT, where remote working is going to be the norm, even after Covid.”
2021 saw a boom in sectors that could adapt easily to the digital work model and employers hired the maximum number of remote interns in sectors like digital marketing and mobile app development. This was followed by content writing, social media marketing, and search engine optimisation. Marketing, business development, sales, digital marketing, branding, customer service, market research, finance, and human resources also saw a huge increase in the number of internships in 2021, says an Economic Times report.
Opportunities for positions of software engineer, full-stack developer, data analyst also boomed in 2021 besides fields like product growth, design, people operations, business operations, and analytics, all of which were the most sought-after for internships.
There are countless internship opportunities in India today and the challenge would be to find the best and the most valuable one for your future. Landing the right internship can be as tricky as landing a job in the current competitive scenario, and the key is to showcase your skills tailored to the company. Provide honest and accurate details of your education and skills, and create your profile yourself, instead of copying a generic one from the internet. The only aspect for which you should take help from others is probably your grammar and spelling, which should be impeccable, regardless of the industry. Write different profiles for different employers. Virtual internships require you to be tech-savvy and flexible as well, so add those skills prominently.
Finding the right internship
Check with your college or university if they have partner companies for internships. If not, there are dedicated portals that aggregate internship opportunities, besides job portals. Among them are Internshala, Letsintern, HelloIntern, etc.
Internshala is probably the most comprehensive of internship portals in India and also the most competitive, due to the sheer volume of applicants. At the same time, it’s also the most popular meeting ground for employers and applicants so there are more options and more chances of finding the right fit. Internshala often partners with tech giants like OnePlus to offer students one-day internships with them – an experience of a lifetime.
LetsIntern, yet another portal dedicated to internships, offers countless opportunities with stipends and has tied up with 12,000 organisations including Uber, Viber, Dell, Pepsi, HCL, Adidas, P&G, Flipkart, Zomato, etc.
InternIn, also a start-up, is a one-stop platform for students where they can obtain information about available internships/Live Projects/ Jobs/Training.
LinkedIn is primarily a job portal but has a separate section for internships. A highlight is that LinkedIn has tie-ups with some of the top companies of the world including international ones, but expect tight competition. You can find many more of such internship portals on LinkedIn and register with them separately. Most of them have a basic free version, which is a great place to begin your search.
So make the best use of the internship opportunities available, broaden your horizons, gain new skills, perspectives, insights, and friends in the industry. Above all, try for anything that interests you, not just what is expected of you. You never know, you might realise that your aptitude lies in a field different from what you studied or what you thought you liked. Good luck!